There was lots of traffic at the malls this past holiday season. (Beverly's Jon Hurst, head of the state retailers' group, says final figures will probably show sales up 5 percent from the year before.)

A local banker tells us there's been a surge in refinancing applications as more seek to take advantage of still-low interest rates.

And this week Windover Development announced it is proceeding with a 38-unit rental housing project on Beverly's Rantoul Street that had been on hold since 2007.

All of which may not add up to a full-blown recovery, but comes as welcome news nevertheless, as we embark on a new year.

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